The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

archives for 11/2019

Nov 2019
S M T W T F S
         
Jack-o-lantern mushroom

During the last month, we had a very late first frost (November 1), rapidly followed by a freeze down into the teens. I went on a caving adventure, Mark learned to make movies on a hand-cranked, black-and-white, film camera, and I published a new werewolf novel.

But none of that is the topic of this post.

Instead, I want to talk more about --- fungi!

Hare's Foot Inkcap

Fantastic Fungi
Mark and I just got back from a showing of the documentary Fantastic Fungi at the nearest art-house theater. We both highly recommend you check this movie out!

The stunningly beautiful time-lapses alone were worth the price of admission. But it was equally fascinating to hear Paul Stamets speak about his life and work. (Michael Pollan, although listed in the description, plays a much smaller role. There is also a cameo appearance by Tradd Cotter!)

I was a little uneasy about certain New Age/overly-poetic language. But Mark felt like the subject matter merited the flourishes. The second half also goes deep into psilocybin/consciousness/mental-health experiments and theory, which was thought-provoking but may turn certain members of the audience off. (I can't decide whether or not I'm among that number.)

Girl gathering mushrooms

New Mushroom Field Guides
Of course, my feet remain firmly planted in the dirt, so I got just as much out of the two new field guides I splurged on a couple of months ago. When I experienced my first round of mycophilia two decades ago, there were so few book choices out there that I was soon disappointed by the fact many of the species I found weren't ID'able. Nowadays, there are lots of local field guides that contain most of the species in certain areas.

For our region, I settled on two new editions. First, Appalachian Mushrooms by Walter E. Sturgeon feels like a (big but) traditional field guide. Species are divided up by category with great images and descriptions.

In contrast, Mushrooms of the Midwest, by Michael Kuo and Andrew S. Methven is a little denser and more scientific (arranged alphabetically by scientific name), although still with excellent photos and good descriptions.

The rule of thumb when identifying mushrooms you intend to eat is to use at least two field guides for ID, preferably also begging backup from a real, live person. Together, Appalachian Mushrooms and Mushrooms of the Midwest make me feel good about at least some of my IDs. Obviously, I don't eat the ones I don't feel good about.

Tiger Sawgill mushroom

Mushroom ID Websites
Of course, you don't have to pay for books unless you want to. As I think I mentioned in a previous post, iNaturalist is a great social-media-style gathering place to share information about species you find in the wild. Don't eat something just because someone on iNaturalist tells you it's okay! But, beyond that caveat, you can learn a lot by posting your tentative ID and waiting to see what others think.

A more field-guide-style website is MushroomExpert.com. This labor of love is put together by one of the authors of Mushrooms of the Midwest, and it has even more photos and species than Kuo included in his book. Definitely worth a visit if you have an unknown fungus in your hands!

Mushroom log

And that's probably about as much mushroom enthusiasm as you can handle for one day. I hope you enjoyed the photos, which came from various hikes over the last few months.

Posted Sun Nov 17 18:46:31 2019 Tags:


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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.







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